Involution (內捲)

"To roll inwards" or "involution" (內捲 nèi juǎn) became a popular phrase in China the last couple of years as a signifier of the intense zero-sum competition in Chinese society between individuals. Matches Western ideas of the rat race, burnout and diminishing returns, when putting more effort into something only results in getting less back.

For example, picture a competitive university class where students refrain of sharing notes, and where the grading is normally distributed - only a few individuals can receive the top grade, generating an environment of extreme competition. As a result, students end up putting in way more effort and time in the module that it is potentially worth from a learning point of view, while simultaneously the probability of actually receiving the top grade is low.

Video of Chinese student running program on laptop while riding bike goes viral-CnTechPost
video showing a student at Tsinghua University (one of China's most prestigious universities) holding a laptop running a program while riding a bicycle was widely circulated on the Chinese Internet as an example of "involution." The competition never stops.
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